December 8, 2023
JAKARTA – Indonesia is gearing up to put in a bid to soccer’s world governing body FIFA to jointly host the 2025 Under-20 (U-20) World Cup with Singapore, following the recent success in hosting the U-17 soccer competition.
Should the Southeast Asian countries be selected for the U-20 competition, it will be the second time for Indonesia to be granted the rights to organize the junior soccer competition after being stripped of its hosting rights for this year’s tournament, following opposition by local politicians to the Israeli team’s participation in the tournament.
On Monday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told the press that the U-17 tournament, which concluded on Saturday with Germany beating France on penalties, was a success and very well organized.
“[The U-17 tournament in Indonesia] has been lauded by FIFA as one of the best events,” Jokowi said in Monday’s press briefing in Jakarta. “This achievement is a source of pride for all Indonesians and also has had a positive impact on the world’s perception of Indonesia.”
He added that he had instructed the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) and the Youth and Sports Ministry to lodge a joint bid with Singapore to host the biannual U-20 tournament in 2025. The two countries would also put up a tender to host four iterations of the U-17 World Cup, which will be made into an annual event, between 2025 and 2029.
Jokowi also said that Indonesia would start preparations for the bid by renovating 22 stadiums across the country, without elaborating on which stadiums had been selected.
“I’m sure Indonesia and Singapore can be great hosts for these two tournaments,” the President said.
Following up the President’s instructions, Youth and Sports Minister Dito Ariotedjo immediately met with his Singaporean counterpart for an initial discussion of the joint bid.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has signed a letter of intent to discuss and consider jointly hosting “either the U-20 or U-17 World Cup” with the PSSI, according to a statement on Monday. Both soccer associations had submitted the letter to FIFA.
“We’re now waiting to hear from Singapore,” Dito said on Tuesday as quoted by Antara, adding that he expected to meet with the Singaporean by next week.
Indonesia’s interest in hosting more youth tournaments is in line with the country’s soccer blueprint of developing young talent as a foundation for the senior team qualifying for the 2038 senior World Cup, said PSSI chief Erick Thohir.
The new format of the 2025 U-17 World Cup, which will have a total of 48 teams, double the number of this year’s participants, is expected to help Indonesian youth soccer teams to develop.
“[More teams] will help to elevate the standards of soccer everywhere across the world. That’s why we are pushing for youth teams, including Indonesia, to keep on contributing [to this development],” Erick said.
The 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup was held in four different cities across Java, marking the first time for a global soccer youth tournament to be held in the country, let alone Southeast Asia.
Germany won the tournament after beating France 4-3 in a penalty shootout on Saturday at Manahan Stadium in Surakarta, Central Java.
Indonesia’s U-17 team, nicknamed the Young Garudas, failed to reach the knockout stage, after only securing two draws and a loss in Group A, which also comprised Morocco, Equador and Panama.
But the government still hailed the youth tournament a success, as it attracted more than 500,000 fans, packing four stadiums in Jakarta, Surakarta, Bandung in West Java and Surabaya in East Java.
An analysis from the sports ministry and third-party observers revealed that the tournament generated spending of Rp 305 billion (US$19.6 million).
Indonesia had secured the hosting right for the U-20 World Cup this year, but it was revoked by FIFA in March after politicians called for a ban on Israel competing on Indonesian soil. However, FIFA did not mention the opposition to Israel’s participation as the reason behind the revocation. Argentina ended up hosting the competition.
Aside from soccer, Indonesia is also planning to put in a bid for hosting rights for other sports competitions, such as the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and the men’s and women’s volleyball World Championship, slated for 2025.
“Insya Allah (God Willing), we will host many world sport championships in 2025,” Dito said. (kuk)